Caution to the Wind
I have recently driven from Oregon to Missouri which is where I draw my motivation for this post. My journey with family and dog was about 2200 miles taking me through my old Colorado stomping grounds. It was interesting to observe the status of some of the energy producing concerns that I used to be a part of. The coal mining and the electric generation that I was a part of is still there and from what I understand it doing well and cleaner than ever. New on the landscape were the hundreds if not thousands of wind turbine farms. Nothing new, they have given me a sense of pride for the frontier innovative spirit that they represent. But what I saw on this trip caused me to question that spirit.
Wind turbines have gotten larger and larger; hence they now dominate the landscape where they exist. Do you know why they are larger? From what I understand it is in search of greater efficiency or justification for the investment. That may help justify the investment but what if it does not pan out? What if we never reach an ROI that is not dependent upon subsidies? What if we find out those bigger turbines create bigger operational problems? I mention this because I estimate that I saw more motionless turbines then spinning turbines. Justified if the wind is not blowing, but have you ever been in Wyoming when the wind was not blowing? It may have been a light wind but it also looked like many turbines were beginning to age. I concluded that motionless wind turbines are not as inspiring as those that are spinning.
My point is one of caution. Wind power may very well be a great option, but how much thought has been given to the opposite. What if we discover that these wind farms don’t return a profit based on total cost of ownership? What will happen to those turbine monuments? What might people say about their deteriorating shells a few hundred years from now. Aren’t blogs great for tossing out these totally random thoughts?